Legal Risks to Signing an Interspousal Transfer Deed

By Jason Brick

An interspousal transfer deed is a document used to transfer property to a spouse, theoretically without taxation. It is sometimes used to transfer one spouse's interest in a jointly owned property. Other times, it is used to make a property belong to a spouse whom it is assumed will survive, thus making the postmortem transfer simpler. Although useful, interspousal transfer deeds are not without risks.

Taxes

Though an interspousal transfer deed is often intended to avoid estate taxes, this is not always successful. A poorly organized transfer can sometimes be subject to taxation. Worse, these taxes are often a surprise to the spouse who received the transferred property, making for a hefty tax bill that one is completely unprepared for.

Divorce

If you are considering an interspousal transfer deed that surrenders your ownership of a property, be certain you trust your spouse. If you have signed such a deed and later get divorced, the property is no longer jointly held, and you have no rights to it or to proceeds from its sale. This remains true even if you contributed to house payments or property taxes after signing over the deed.

Estate

If your family is counting on your home to be a portion of the estate they will inherit, it can cause hurt feelings if they find out that it is actually the property of your spouse. This is especially true of a later second marriage, where children might feel some right of ownership to a house you originally bought with their other parent.

About the Author

Jason Brick has written professionally since 1994. His work has appeared in numerous venues including "Hand Held Crime" and "Black Belt Magazine." He has completed hundreds of technical and business articles, and came to full-time writing after a long career teaching martial arts. Brick received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Oregon.

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